What are network vulnerabilities?

Network vulnerabilities are loopholes or flaws in hardware, software, or processes that can threaten the normal functioning of your network. Vulnerabilities put your business and your customers’ sensitive data at risk, leading to easy entry for hackers, diminished sales, reputation loss, and penalties.

Network vulnerabilities can be broken down into hardware, firmware, software, and human vulnerabilities. If any of these entities are not properly managed, your network will be easy to break into.

As every organization is different, network vulnerabilities also vary in terms of complexity and severity. It is important to be aware of all vulnerabilities by regularly reviewing security policies and drafting protocols and practices to prevent recurring network vulnerabilities. In order to be aware of the risks, it is crucial to know the causes of network vulnerabilities and learn how to avoid them.

Causes of network vulnerabilities

Many organizations contain loopholes and vulnerabilities. Devices that are outdated or nearing end of service can make it easy for exploiters to get their hands on crucial data and internal information. Also, if you’re not up-to-date with patching, your network could be at risk. Let’s go through some of the common causes of network vulnerabilities.

  • Weak passwords: Shared, outdated passwords and lack of password protection enable hackers to break into your network and steal critical data.
  • Unauthorized/excess access: Employees who access a system that is not assigned to them, or employees who have access to parts of the network that don't fall under their job responsibilities, can play a major role in stealing information.
  • Unsecure backup methods: Traditional backup methods with no encryption can make your network vulnerable. Also, not performing frequent backups and storing backed-up data off-site can make your network fall into the wrong hands.
  • Poor user tracking: Not monitoring users leads to insufficient accountability around user activities, which contributes to a vulnerable network.
  • SNMP community: Keeping the default SNMP community string set to “public” is also a form of network vulnerability.

Tackling network vulnerabilities

No matter your organization’s size, you must follow some basic rules to safeguard your network from exploiters and data thieves. Let’s take a look at how to prevent vulnerabilities from occurring, fix them after their occurrence, and maintain a secure network environment.

Preventing network vulnerabilities

To prevent network vulnerabilities, it is important to manage your network configurations. As network configurations form the backbone of every network device, you must periodically back up your network configurations, monitor configuration changes, prevent unauthorized configuration changes, and get alerted in case of a new entry or configuration change. By constantly managing your network configurations, you can prevent vulnerabilities and forced entries into your network.

Fixing network vulnerabilities

In order to identify the vulnerabilities in your network, you need to run vulnerability assessments frequently. Once you understand how vulnerable your network is, you must provide suitable remediation by patching. If you need to address hundreds or thousands of vulnerabilities, you will have to automate the vulnerability assessment mechanism to save time and manual effort.

Maintaining a loophole-free network

Adhering to network security policies is the most effective way to ensure your network is free from vulnerabilities. You can specify which policy-mandated controls must be configured and perform regular auditing of policies. By doing so, you will be able to identify common loopholes, the devices that require a password change, and outdated systems that need to be upgraded. This will give you a sense of control over your network and will also help you tighten your network security in the long run.

Automating network vulnerability management

Network vulnerability management cannot be achieved in a single day. To ensure your network is vulnerability-free, prevent future vulnerabilities, and make sure all devices are checked for vulnerabilities, it is highly recommended that you use a tool. A tool will help you save time and automate the process of network vulnerability management.

ManageEngine Network Configuration Management is one tool that acts as a 3-in-1 solution. Network Configuration Manager backs up configurations, prevents unauthorized configuration changes, tracks users, runs firmware vulnerability assessments, and audits compliance policies. You can also automate bulk changes with Network Configuration Manager.

Try Network Configuration Manager's 30-day free version and achieve complete network vulnerability management.